“Everything is Extremely Important: There is Nothing That Will Not Come Back Again”
Yu Honglei solo exhibition, curated by Aimee Lin @ Magician Space, 798 Art District, Beijing, China
12 July – 8 September, 2013
By Edward Sanderson
(left) “Now,” (right) “Gravity”
(background) “Jian Ge Wen Ling,” (foreground) “Let Me Approach You Again”
(foreground) “It,” (background) “First into the Mist”
(left) “In the midst of the blooming flowers, she smiles.” (right) “Gravity”
Various objects and constructions are dispersed around the first room of “Everything is Extremely Important: There is Nothing That Will Not Come Back Again,” Yu Honglei’s solo exhibition at Magician Space. It is assumed that each is intentionally chosen and arranged, and as such suggests that they are imbued with meaning. Yet in Yu’s presentation, while objects and assemblages tempt interpretation, their meanings are left resolutely unclear—never quite fulfilling the viewer’s efforts to read them.
A low barrier perforated with a brickwork pattern is coated in a lumpy, clay-like material with two digital clocks, displaying identical times, inserted in the gaps. On the other side of the room, a similar barrier is laden with the same shapeless material this time supporting a light bulb and fitting. Towards the back wall two sky-blue wooden beams (reportedly from an “ancient building”) stand upright on tripods, with stuffed budgerigars clinging to their surface. A low, black, wooden box stands to one side, with two black porcelain cat figurines perched neatly on top.
The wall text characterizes Chen Shaoxiong and Liu Ding’s “Project Without Space” as an “iteration,” suggesting a serial repetition, one on top of the last, in a process of refinement. Now it has reached its sixth version with this presentation of paintings and videos, what lessons can we draw from these critical installations?
Spread over three rooms, “Project Without Space” takes a number of forms. In one room, two new walls have been constructed, providing settings for two videos and two paintings. One video records the artists in the process of installing the previous “Project Without Space #5” (earlier in 2012 at Magician Space down the road in 798). The video is accelerated and subtitles appear over the image, apparently a record of the artists’ conversations regarding their work and activities (“However you want to paint this one, just go ahead and do it.” “Our intellectual production is our work.”). The other video shows the two artists sitting in a café, evidently engaging in conversation, with a similar series of subtitles. The paintings bring together forms that suggest other painted artworks from (predominantly Western?) art history over the previous century, perhaps the most recognisable being several flat coloured shapes from “The Snail” by Henri Matisse.
Aike-Dellarco Gallery, at Art Basel Hong Kong (Hall 1, Booth 1D50)
23 – 26 May, 2013
Interviewer: Edward Sanderson Interviewee: Li Ran
Li Ran is a Chinese artist working with performance and video to create “mockumentaries” around fictional (or part-fictional) characters. Over the last year Li has had solo shows at Beijing’s Magician Space and Shanghai’s Aike Dellarco Gallery, and was included in the Shenzhen and Gwangju Biennales. Li took part in curator Biljana Ciric’s “Alternatives to Ritual” exhibition at the Goethe Institute Open Space in Shanghai, and ON/OFF, a major survey of young Chinese artists in Beijing’s Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art (UCCA). Currently he has new work on show at Shenzhen’s OCT and has just appeared in a group show focusing on reassessing performance art in China (curated by Su Wei at Beijing’s Star Gallery). For Art Basel Hong Kong, Li has been commissioned by Aike Dellarco to create a new piece for the gallery’s space in the “Discoveries” section of the fair.
Five monumental structures are distributed around the gallery space, coated in slicks of pigment. These multi-coloured, yet muted, painted surfaces have taken on the turbulent patterns of weather systems, or of ink in water. Despite their geometric shapes, the surfaces have a plastic quality, giving an organic effect to the objects. On the floor on one side of each of these monuments stands a tripod, supporting a vertical, tubular arrangement of hard-edged gold or silver tubes, but with additions of hand-formed plastic or clay elements in day-glo colours formed inside or around them. The polished metal, and neon colours, of these tubular structures stand out in contrast to the generally darker palette of the monuments against which they stand.
A Wall on the Wall, A Floor on the Floor: Wang Wei solo show
Magician Space, 798 Art District
13 September – 31 October, 2012
The two pieces by artist Wang Wei currently on show at Magician Space address two aspects of constructed space—the wall and the floor—in one succinct installation. As the title makes clear, the pieces are literally a wall and a floor, but their structure, placement, and relationship to each other, and their existence within the gallery space, mark them out as out of place. This gives a suggestion, backed up by the text for the exhibition, that these pieces are from other places, reproduced here by the artist and working to create a representational power through the elements that they are made up of.
Magician Space, 798 East Road, 798 Art Zone, No.2 Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang District, 100015 Beijing
25 February – 25 March, 2012
There are plenty of art exhibitions that are obscure and difficult to fathom – this is usually a cover for a lack of thought and depth that becomes painfully apparent when they are placed under the least analysis. So I’m very happy when a show comes along which, while flirting with obscurity and confusion, manages to hold my attention with the possibilities for meaning that it urges the viewer to explore, and productively uses a certain level of obscurity to sustain the interest in delving further into the works. Li Ran’s new installation at Magician Space seems to be just such a show.
He An’s new installation at the store-front space Arrow Factory, is the first in a series of shows in Beijing for the Chinese artist: Tang Contemporary and Magician Space hosting shows opening this week in the 798 Art District. The installation at Arrow Factory continues the artist’s concern with lighting systems and sees a working streetlight poking through the glass of the gallery’s frontage. Below the light a small switch invites you to turn the light on and off. Behind the glass, inside the inaccessible gallery, the streetlight is broken up into short sections to fit into the confined space and snakes across the floor before disappearing into the back wall on which a black, schematic painting of rings and linking lines has been applied.
In reality this is only a third of the installation, there being another two parts nearby which the painting seems to direct the audience to. “Some 500 meters away” a shop’s lights have also been connected to system, and in another, undisclosed location another light is to be found. All these instances of lights have their respective switches, forming some kind of symbiotic lighting system that extends the reach of each flick of the switches.